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Prison escapee arrested after 40 years on the run

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

Forty years after he escaped from a prison in Huntersville, a 68-year-old convicted felon was apprehended 1,000 miles away in Waterloo, Iowa.

Ronald Carnes’ four decades on the run were apparently undone by a trip to the DMV.

He was sentenced November 1970 to the Mecklenburg Correctional Center in Huntersville for robbing the Lil General convenience store in Winston-Salem, according to court records, with a projected release date of 1983.

But he served less than three years. Prison records indicate he escaped from the minimum security facility on Aug. 4, 1973. Officials with the N.C. Department of Public Safety couldn’t locate details of how he escaped. Pam Walker, a spokeswoman, said she wasn’t sure if records that old still exist. The prison he escaped from shut its doors in 1998.

According to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Carnes spent some time in Seattle and had been in Black Hawk County, Iowa, for about a year.

In July 2013, he obtained an Iowa car title using the alias of William Henry Cox, according to a criminal complaint. In March, he used a bogus driver’s license under another name, Louie Vance. The state of Iowa uses facial-recognition biometric data to help crack down on driver’s license fraud, though it was unclear Tuesday whether the system detected Carnes, according to the Courier newspaper.

Carnes was charged Monday with committing fraudulent practices, possession of weapons by a felon and possession of a fictitious license, the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s office said.

Shortly afterward, authorities in North Carolina received a notice from the U.S. Marshals Service that Carnes had been captured.

It was unclear when Carnes would be returned to North Carolina. Staff researcher Maria David contributed.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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